OCC TECH NEWS
February 12, 2014
Indie studio Hapa Games has released a new trailer for Ascendant, "an unforgiving 2.5D side scrolling beat 'em up with roguelike elements for the PC." There definitely seems to be a bit of a Guacamelee! influence in the vibrant look of the game, which is certainly not a bad thing, but other than them both being side-scrolling brawlers, the similarities seem to end there.
You play as the Ascendant, out to kill older, tyrannical gods that don't want to see you rise to power. Most of the combat will be of the martial arts melee variety, with both ground and aerial attacks, but you'll also be able to discover Aspects of the Gods and Breaths along the way. Aspects of the Gods can be socketed into a weapon, armor, or spell, granting a powerful ability like double jumping, explosive spells, or phantom strikes. The effect of an Aspect changes based on what you socket. The Breaths, on the other hand, act as one-time use spells, which can be both offensive or defensive. Weapons will also drop with random attributes.
The Roguelike nature of the game comes in the form of randomly generated environments, multiple enemy variations for the core enemies, and of course, permadeath. There will also be "multiple unlockable characters with different base stats" and even "random special events" to keep you on your toes and ensure no two playthroughs are ever the same. You'll also be able to play with a friend via local co-op.
Ascendant had a successful Kickstarter late last year and is currently on Steam Greenlight, still waiting to be greenlit. While I may not be doing my Steam Greenlight Spotlights anymore, when I saw the press release for this new trailer, I had to share. I am a huge fan of Guacamelee! and a huge fan of Roguelikes, and this seems to be a Roguelike Guacamelee! on crack! I'll be keeping my eye on Ascendant for sure.
Source: Press Release and Official Site and Steam Greenlight
When one works with a living cell, they generally must do so from outside its membrane. This is understandable, considering the size of a cell, but if researchers could reach inside a cell, they could do some interesting things. Researchers at Penn State University have recently achieved that by controlling nanomotors that existed within a living cell using ultrasound and magnetic fields.
Nanomotors have been created before, but have never been used in living human cells, in part because at least the chemically fueled ones use a toxic fuel. This new design however can be powered remotely using ultrasound, which does not affect a cell on its own, and does not affect the motors either, at low frequencies. Turn up the frequency however and the motors can start spinning, like an egg beater, or move forward like a battering ram and actually puncture the cell membrane. If they are not pointed in the correct direction, a magnetic field can get them pointed where you want them. This could including pointing them at an organelle, to discover the unseen reactions a cell has for such events.
Another important feature of these nanomotors is that they can move autonomously from each other. This will be exceedingly useful if they were sent to hunt cancer cells or deliver medicine, as you would not want them all to move in one direction.
Source: Penn State University
According to information obtained by Bloomberg, Apple is working on a new version of the set top Apple TV. The company is also engaged in talks with media partners including Time Warner Cable to bring content to the new device. In addition to new content partners, the new Apple TV would have an updated processor and improved user interface to allow for easier navigation between content. The report claims that Apple hopes to announced the device with a release planned for the holiday shopping season. The Apple TV could be just one of a number of new devices from the company this year as CEO Tim Cook has promised "a year full of new product introductions."
A partnership between Google and VMWare was announced today at the VMWare Partner Exchange in San Francisco that marks the first step in bringing other operating systems to Google Chromebooks. VMWare is optimizing the Horizon View desktop-as-a-service software for Chromebooks and will "provide access to legacy Windows-based applications, data and desktops via a Web-based application catalog on Chromebooks thanks to VMware's Blast HTML5 Desktop Access software." Director of product management for Google Chrome Rajen Sheth said, "As the countdown to Windows XP end of life continues, deploying Chromebooks and taking advantage of a DaaS environment ensures that security vulnerabilities, application compatibility and migration budgets will be a thing of the past."
Last Friday, Valve added a "Recently Updated" section to Steam. Today, Valve has introduced Steam Tags. If you're a frequent user of the Internet, you're probably already familiar how tags work. Even the OCC forums have a tagging system, though it's rarely used.
Any Steam user can tag games or software with terms he or she deem relevant, and the most popular tags become featured categories, "helping everyone discover products through a new set of genres, themes, and attributes defined by you and the rest of the community." The system is considered to be in beta right now until enough data is collected, but it's already live on the site for all to see and use. Steam Tags also happen to be language-specific based on the language you have Steam set to, so if you tag a game in English, that tag is only visible to other people with Steam set to English.
When you visit the Steam Tags page, you can either choose to view global tags, your personal tags (if you made any), or tags recommended for you. When visiting a game's store page, the popular tags for said game appears underneath the release date in the top-right summary section. Your personal tags also appear below the popular ones, which allows you to produce your own categorizing of sorts. It's also important to note that owning the game is not a requirement for tagging.
In addition to the new Steam Tags, Valve has also introduced new filtering tools to help users more easily discover games with attributes they're looking for. After clicking on a tag that interests you, you can click on the "See all..." button to go to a new page that then allows you to filter your search by category, feature, and/or operating system. Unfortunately, as of now, there is no way to combine tags into a single search; so if you're interested in discovering all tower defense games featuring zombies, you'll have to select just one of those tags and do a little digging. Hopefully multiple-tag-selection is something Valve implements in the future.
After numerous delays (and a change in publishers from THQ to Ubisoft), Obsidian Entertainment's South Park: The Stick of Truth has finally gone gold, with a release date set for March 4, 2014 (a whole year after the initial date). Along with the announcement that the game has gone gold, Ubisoft released a "Making of" video, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the game, with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone providing some interesting insight.
South Park: The Stick of Truth will release on March 4 for Windows PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Pre-ordering the game gets you The Ultimate Fellowship content pack, which comes with four exclusive character costumes.
Source: Press Release
Over a year after Pillars of Eternity (formerly Project Eternity) was successfully funded on Kickstarter, raking in nearly $4 million USD, development still continues. Of course, development is taking a bit longer than originally expected thanks to all the additional stretch goals that were attained. Nevertheless, Obsidian Entertainment has finally posted a release window for the game: "We wanted to officially update everyone that we are looking good to release Eternity by Winter 2014. So look forward to getting your hands on Pillars of Eternity later this year."
For Kickstarter backers, it's a long time coming, but all signs point to the game being well worth the wait. In the meantime, enjoy this gameplay teaser posted back in December:
Source: Kickstarter Update
On Monday, I reported that bitcoin marketplace Mt. Gox put a halt on withdrawals indefinitely after it detected "unusual activity" and yesterday a second bitcoin exchange, Bitstamp, followed suit. According to a statement from the Bitcoin Foundation, unknown hackers "are sending 'mutated' lines of code into the program that runs the virtual currency," and these attacks are responsible for the problems experienced by Mt. Gox and Bitstamp. Spokeswoman Jinyoung Lee Englund stated that these are denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which "do not affect people's bitcoin wallets or funds" and that no bitcoin theft is occurring.
Reuters also reports that Canada "will toughen rules targeting money laundering and terrorist financing to keep a closer eye on the use of virtual currencies," while the United States may "adopt consumer disclosure rules, capital requirements and a framework for permissible investments with consumer money."
Chiphell Forums have posted photos of the new ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme IV VGA Cooler for AMD Hawaii and NVIDIA GK110 GPUs. It features a monstrous heatsink with dimensions of 288mm (L) x 103mm (W) x 50mm (H), which requires three free expansion slots for installation. Up to 300W of cooling is achieved by the 84 fins on the heatsink, five copper heatpipes, three 92mm PWM-controlled fans, and pre-applied ARCTIC MX-4 thermal paste. It is expected to cost $99.99. A complete compatibility list is below:
R9 290 (X), R9 280 (X), 270 (X), HD 7870, 7850, 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 5870, 5850, 5830, 4890, 4870, 4850, 4830, 3870, 3850
GTX Titan, 780, 770, 680*, 670*, 660TI, 580, 570, 560 SE, 560Ti, 560, 550Ti, 9800 GTX+, 9800 GTX, 9800GT, 9600GT
Source: Chiphell (translated)
AMD officially announced the Radeon R7 250X on Monday, which is already being sold for $99.
This card is essentially a rebranded AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition and like it, has similar specifications. The R7 250X is still based on the 28nm Cape Verde GPU core with up to 640 stream processors running up to 1GHz with up to 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus. Like the Radeon HD 7700 GHz Edition, this card does not support AMD's new TrueAudio technology nor CrossFire with XDM. This does however support PCI-E 3.0 x16, DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, and Mantle. AMD recommends a single 6-pin power connector with 95W to power the 2GB version of the graphics card.
Benchmarks provided by AMD clearly show that its card surpasses NVIDIA's GTX 650. However, it should be noted that NVIDIA's GTX 650 Ti wins benchmarks against the former Radeon HD 7700, which means it likely beats the new R7 250X too for just about $20 more. However, AMD conveniently didn't show those numbers.
Source: Hot Hardware
Anyone who has driven home during rush hour expects that uneven movement leads things to slow down. According to researchers at Northwestern University however, the opposite may be true in the case of water moving through nanochannels; the interior of nanotubes.
For some time it has been believed that water will travel through the center of a nanotube evenly. At one point when this assumption was tested, it came back that the water molecules were traveling some ten thousand times faster than predicted. This was explained away as the result of the smoothness of the interior of the nanotubes, but the new observations challenge that. Instead of the molecules moving with an even, constant flow, the Northwestern researchers suggest that instead they move intermittently as a result of the difference in the size of water molecules and the spacing between carbon atoms in the nanotube. This causes areas to form where the water molecules are unstable and then move through the channel very easily and readily.
Many applications could benefit from this improved understanding of fluid dynamics, including water desalination systems, carbon nanotube-powered batteries, and more. Also it is important to note that while they are not comprised of carbon nanotubes, cell membranes possess nanochannels that regulate fluid flow between a cell and its environment.
Source: Northwestern University
We're in the middle of the week, with plenty of items to keep you occupied today. There's a review on the XFX Radeon R9 290 Double Dissipation video card, which has a stylish cooler to help keep the factory overclocked core from getting too hot. We have a look at the Xigmatek Nebula case that has a rather unique appearance to set it apart from pretty much anything else on the market. We end today with two different coolers aimed at completely different markets. The nPowerTek NPH-1366-115HC uses a single, large heat pipe to keep Intel socket 1366 CPUs cool, while the Koolance EXT-440CU liquid cooling system with the CPU-380I water block for some extreme cooling potential.
XFX Radeon R9 290 Double Dissipation @ Benchmark Reviews
Xigmatek Nebula @ TechSpot
nPowerTek NPH-1366-115HC Heat Sink @ Frostytech
Koolance EXT-440CU Liquid Cooling System with CPU-380I Water Block @ PC Perspective
February 11, 2014
In preparation for Strider's release next week, publisher Capcom has released an interesting retrospective that provides a brief history of the series, which started back in 1989.
The new Strider launches February 18 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, and February 19 for Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Two power supplies have been announce by be quiet!, a German cooling and power supply company. The new power supplies, SFX Power 2 and TFX Power 2, boast a strong feature set that make them stand out from the competition. Both models are suitable in small form factor environments while still being able to support plenty of components, as each contains enough ports to power a modern Mini-ITX system. Sleeved cables for the SFX Power 2 run 35 to 50 centimeters long, while the TFX Power 2 provides sleeved cables that are 60 centimeters long. Efficiency is a strong point, with be quiet! offering 80PLUS Bronze certification for both power supplies, with a special version of the TFX Power 2 being 80PLUS Gold certified. The SFX Power 2 and TFX Power 2 conform to all major safety standards as well, to include OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, and OPP, and also fulfill the newest European regulations ErP 2014.
Both power supply offerings are immediately available from be quiet! within the European market.
Source: Press Release
Professional bowler Jason Belmonte isn't sponsored by Google, but he damn well should be. There's a lot of debate about the usefulness and validity of Google Glass, but watching a perfect game through one is certainly a check mark in the positive column. While some amateur athletes have recorded scrimmages using Google Glass, Belmonte is the first professional athlete to wear one during a competition, which occurred this past December.
Since Belmonte isn't sponsored by Google, acquiring Google Glass was no easy task for the Australian. One of Google's requirements for its $1,500 "Explorers" program is that potential Explorers must be able to attend a "fitting" in New York or San Francisco prior to taking one home. To get around this requirement, he bought an invite on eBay and then had a "friend's friend's friend's girlfriend" talk to Google before it was finally sent to him in Australia.
Even though Belmonte had 61 perfect games under his belt prior to using Google Glass, he certainly felt a lot of added pressure. According to Belmonte, the perfect game seen in the video below was his second game wearing Google Glass in competition, while he "practiced maybe 2 games earlier in the week with them." Meanwhile, Belmonte thinks this is just the beginning for the world of sports. "The day that [Seattle Seahawk Richard] Sherman wears them on the field, that would be the day the technology is integrated," he said. "Of course, if you get tackled by a 300-pound guy, the glassware is definitely going to break. I don't have to worry about tackling so much."
For most of you, this will probably be the closest you ever get to a first-person perspective of a perfect game:
Source: Yahoo Tech
In a blog announcement, Rdio has revealed that the latest application update for the music service is bringing customers multiple enhancements and features. The first new feature to grace the iOS application is playlist editing, where users can add, rearrange, and remove tracks to build the ultimate music playlist. Playlist editing is new for iPhone and iPod Touch devices. The second feature implemented is reviews, where users can now post and read reviews of available albums and playlists. Rdio has also changed the application’s user interface, design, and overall performance.
Source: Rdio Blog
The beta for the upcoming multiplayer mech game Titanfall from Respawn Entertainment will open tonight at 9PM EST, which is just over two hours from the time of this post. Respawn Entertainment founder Vince Zampella took to Twitter to reveal the news stating "Tonight at 6pm PST there will be a website to sign up for #titanfall beta access. The website will be announced shortly before 6." Gamers won't need to pre-order to be eligible but it is unclear how many total spots will be opened. If you are interested in the game and want to get your hands on it early, be sure to follow Vince on Twitter and good luck in getting in as the sign up page will undoubtedly be swamped at 9PM.
The number of devices that use CPUs based on the ARM architecture has been growing rapidly for several years, and the company continues to innovate and improve its products to help keep the momentum going. The Cortex-A17 is the next core in the line of 32-bit cores from the company and it expands on the Cortex-A12, which won't be released until later this year. The company plans to release the new core sometime in 2015 and it will offer "high-end 2013 performance in the 2015 midrange market." The A17 will be built using the 28nm manufacturing process, which may seem ancient by 2015 as 20nm and smaller manufacturing is currently available. By using the larger process and optimizing it, ARM hopes to squeeze the most performance it can out of the technology to offer the most transistors per dollar. ARM anticipates that the A17 will match the A15 in processing power while delivering it with lower power consumption numbers.
Source: Extreme Tech
Steam Dev Days was a two-day game developer conference held by Valve on January 15-16, 2014. While the conference was not open to the press or public, Valve has now made 28 Steam Dev Days presentations available online over at steamdevdays.com. All 28 presentations are available for viewing on the Steamworks Development YouTube channel, while Valve has also provided the PowerPoint and PDF documents for many of them.
Sprint has added Baltimore and Philadelphia to its Sprint Spark network offering, making the new tri-band network technology now available in 14 total markets. Customers within these areas will notice speed improvements, as long as capable devices are being used with the network. Sprint Spark makes use of a unique combination of advanced networking capabilities in order to deliver quick mobile data accessibility. Bob Azzi, the chief network officer for Sprint, noted that customers within the two new markets will continue to see speed improvements as the network implementation is optimized. Along with quicker speeds, customers within Baltimore and Philadelphia will notice improved call quality in the coming weeks, with the introduction of high-definition voice on the Sprint Spark network. A phone with HD voice incorporates seven octaves of sound, while a typical phone that does not support the feature only provides four.
Source: Press Release
Yahoo has acquired application developer Wander, which develops a diary application for the iPhone called Days. The application focuses on giving images context, allowing users to share photos along with animated GIFs in one package. The team that oversees development of Days will join the mobile and emerging products unit at Yahoo, located in New York City. The five member team expressed that they will continue to develop the application separately from Yahoo, but that they are also working on projects that are being developed by the Yahoo mobile unit.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed to the public, but the acquisition marks another large milestone for Yahoo as it continues to bring in talent to its workforce.
After 2011 and 2012 saw declines, the NPD's annual report has shown that video game spending in the United States enjoyed an increase in both hardware and software sales in 2013. Software sales, which include "new retail, used retail, rental, and digital (inclusive of subscriptions and DLC)," amounted to $15.39 billion in 2013; a one percent increase over 2012. That being said, physical sales actually saw an eleven percent decline, showing that more and more people are turning to digital outlets.
As for hardware purchases, they saw a five percent increase over 2012, bringing the overall spending (software and hardware) two percent higher in 2013 than 2012. While two percent may not sound like much, as previously stated, this is the first increase in three years. Of course it was no doubt helped by new consoles, as well as the maturization of existing ones. It'll be interesting to see if 2014 enjoys another increase, as the new consoles become more widely adopted.
Source: Game Informer
Lithium-ion batteries are almost everywhere in our lives, as they power our mobile devices as well as electric cars and airplane electronics. Due to the electrolyte used inside of them, all of these batteries are at risk of spontaneously combusting, though smaller batteries are much less at risk than larger ones. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have recently discovered a new polymer that could be used as an electrolyte that is nonflammable, and thus will not allow a battery to catch on fire.
In simplest terms, a battery is made of two electrodes and an electrolyte that connects them. The electrolyte serves as a medium for ions to travel between the electrodes, where they either release or obtain energy. The typical electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries is flammable, so if a battery heats up too much, such as from an overcharge, there is a risk of it catching on fire. What the North Carolina researchers have discovered is that perfluoropolyether, or PFPE, is able to contain transport lithium-ions. This polymer has been used for years as a heavy-duty lubricant and to keep marine life from attaching to the bottom of ships, but the researchers decided to try it as an electrolyte after recognizing its structure is similar to that of a polymeric electrolyte being studied for lithium-ion batteries.
The researchers are now focusing on optimizing the electrolyte's conductivity and improving battery cycling. This research must be done for it to enter commercial batteries, and may also allow it to operate in extremely cold environments.
Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Last week, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley took to Twitter to respond to Titanfall's 64-bit requirement, declaring 32-bit gaming dead. Today, the outspoken president took to Twitter again, this time commenting on the failure of 38 Studios and its failed MMO, known only as Project Copernicus.
In a series of tweets you can see below, Smedley said that 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling had sought funding from SOE several times, but despite really wanting to play the game, it was just too risky. Smedley blames the Rhode Island government for what happened to the studio, particularly Governor Chafee, who he said "trash talked right at the time Curt was trying to get funding." Regardless of Governor Chafee's words, Smedley believes that public funds should never be used to back something as risky as online games.
The conversation continued on if you want to read more, but I think you get the idea.
Someday quantum computers may be used for some advanced calculations electronics computers cannot perform efficiently. One issue plaguing the development of quantum computers however is decoherence, which causes quantum information to be lost. Researchers at the University of Southern California however have recently developed a technique to correct errors caused by decoherence, resulting in a five-fold increase in probability of receiving a correct answer.
For this research, a D-Wave Two quantum processor was used. While it is not a true quantum computer, it is one of the first available quantum processors, capable of running some quantum algorithms, and is also susceptible to decoherence. In a quantum device, information is stored in qubits, which are particles in superposition, and that is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which a particle can exist in multi-exclusive states at the same time. Decoherence is when the superposition collapses down to a single state, causing information to be lost. What the researchers have done is encoded qubits in larger blocks that can be decoded by a majority vote. If one qubit in the block suffers decoherence, the other two can out vote it. The blocks are also then connected to a fourth qubit, which makes the system too large to easily suffer decoherence.
If we are ever to see quantum computing become a reality, rigorous error correction will be needed, and this is at least a step towards that.
Source: University of Southern California
The shortest month of the year is rolling right along, and today we have a couple of things on different spectrums for you to check out. We have a review on the MSI R9 270X Gaming 4G video card, which has a custom cooler and bumps the 270X's memory total to 4GB. It brings it in line with the rest of the R9 series, so it should be quite interesting to see what affect it has on the 270X. For something a little different, and possibly a little disturbing, there's a look at all sorts of disgusting things found in a computer case. We all probably know someone who never cleans out their case, and this shows exactly what it can look like or what may be living inside it.
MSI R9 270X Gaming 4G @ LanOC Reviews
Disgusting Things Found Inside Computers @ ThinkComputers
While Evolve's first official trailer, Happy Hunting, may have been purely cinematic, IGN's Alex Simmons and Daniel Krupa got to sit down with the game (along with other members of the gaming press) and now we get to enjoy some actual gameplay in the form of two videos. The first video takes a look at Evolve's Goliath monster character, while the second video takes a more all-encompassing look at the game from the perspective of the four-player hunter team. Both videos also show off some of the other AI-controlled creatures in the game, including the rather large and aggressive Pale-faced Sloth.
Turtle Rock's Evolve was revealed as the February 2014 Game Informer cover story last month and while several details poured out (the Goliath, pre-order bonuses, and four unique hunters), we've only had a few screenshots to go by up until now. Today, Turtle Rock unveiled the game's first official trailer, entitled "Happy Hunting". It's a purely cinematic trailer – ten seconds in, it states "not actual gameplay" – but it still perfectly captures the atmosphere and tension that is sure to exist in the actual game. It also has a killer music track: a cover of Danzig's "Mother" by Lissie.
Evolve is set to release this Fall for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Last Friday, the Dying Light Twitter and YouTube accounts teased a February 11 reveal. While I said it could just be a new trailer, most people were hoping it would be a playable demo or at least an official release date announcement. But nope, it's a trailer. Entitled "Humanity", the trailer is actually pretty sweet, but I can't help but feel disappointed that this was the supposed big reveal.
So to developers and publishers everywhere, let this trend of teasers for future trailers cease. Sure you garner a few more hits, but in the end you just piss off your fans. That being said, enjoy the trailer...
February 10, 2014
In a recent announcement made by a Microsoft Most Valuable Partner, Marques Lyons, the Xbox Music application for Windows 8.1 will be receiving an update. For the most part, the update will bring various bug fixes and improvements, but will also add other features that are worth noting. These additional features include the ability to view which albums contain an explicit rating, as well as an integrated view in the now playing screen that shows information about the song that played prior as well as the song that is slated to play next.
The update is expected to be pushed immediately to Windows 8.1 machines that contain the Xbox Music application.